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Study highlights scale of field trials for bovine TB vaccine
As many as 100,000 cattle would be needed to show the effect of a vaccine on bTB transmission.
Researchers propose smaller, natural transmission experiments

New research has highlighted the cost and scale of field trials for bovine TB (bTB).

Writing in the journal eLife, researchers show that as many as 100,000 cattle would be needed to show the effect of a vaccine on bTB transmission. They suggest that this scale and cost could be dramatically reduced by using smaller, less expensive experiments.

“We already know that the BCG vaccine has the potential to protect cattle from bovine TB infection,” explains first author Dr Andrew Conlan from the University of Cambridge’s department of veterinary medicine. “Our results highlight the enormous scale of trials that would be necessary to evaluate BCG alongside continuing testing in the field.

“Such trials would be hugely expensive, and it isn’t even clear whether enough farms could be recruited.”

The researchers propose a natural transmission experiment that involves housing a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated cattle with a number of infected cattle. They argue that such an experiment could show the efficacy of vaccination, using as little as 200 cattle.

In the UK, the bTB strategy is to ‘test and slaughter’ infected animals. Whilst the BCG vaccine does exist, it can cause some cattle to test positive falsely.

The BCG vaccine is currently banned in Europe. However, the European Union has stated that it would consider relaxing its laws if the UK government could show that a vaccine is effective on farms.

“If we could consider replacing test-and-slaughter with vaccination, then the economics becomes much more attractive particularly in lower income countries,” explained professor James Wood, head of Cambridge’s department of veterinary medicine.

“Then we would no longer need to carry out expensive testing, but could instead rely on passive surveillance through the slaughterhouses.”

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Report: A third of Welsh birds are in decline

News Story 1
 A report by RSPB Cymru and partnering ornithology organisations has revealed that a third of bird species in Wales are in significant decline.

90 per cent of Wales is farmed and there is now pressure to implement new land management policies that will aid in nature restoration.

Patrick Lindley, Maritime Ornithologist for Natural Resources Wales, commented: “The problems that confront UK birds, whether they are breeding or non-breeding, are pressure and threats that confront entire ecosystems.

“Birds are a great indicator to the health of our environment. The continued population declines of birds of farmed, woodland and upland habitats suggest there are large geographic themes that are having a detrimental impact.”  

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BSAVA announces winner of 2019 Bourgelat Award

One of the world’s leading small animal medicine specialists is set to receive the prestigious Bourgelat Award at BSAVA Congress 2019.

Professor Mike Herrtage will be recognised for his major research into metabolic and endocrine diseases, including diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s disease and Addison’s disease.

During his career, Prof Herrtage has co-authored more than 100 scientific papers and written more than 200 other publications such as abstracts, books and chapters. He also continues to be a source of inspiration for thousands of undergraduate and postgraduate veterinary surgeons.